In an announcement at HIMSS 2013, Qualcomm Life and WebMD have partnered to create a new platform for empowering patient health and wireless medical devices. By utilizing Qualcomm Life's 2net Platform, WebMD will provide consumers with cloud-based access to aggregate data across multiple medical devices and apps. Integrated into WebMD's mobile app, which has already been downloaded over 16 million times, consumers will soon be able to have data from their wireless devices integrated into a single platform. Currently there are 200 devices integrated into what Qualcomm calls an ecosystem of devices. “WebMD has been observing the early rollout of wireless health and mobile health products and we started talking with Qualcomm abut how we can take this market to the next stage,” says Bill Pence, chief technology officer and chief operating officer for WebMD.
“What we're trying to do with 2net and making great progress with is creating an ecosystem of device manufacturers, solutions, and providers connected into an open platform,” says Rick Valencia, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Life in a phone call. Valencia says that what the platform is enabling is the ability for developers and manufacturers to take advantage of common data streams. “Rather than multiple companies and multiple API's they integrate into 2net and its applications.”
Pence adds, “The idea is to simplify this and package it up for the consumer,” Pence says. “We do not diagnose patients, but give them data streams.”
Users will be able to log into their WebMD account, where they will receive advice and education on various devices related to their condition. A diabetic may be suggested a glucose monitor, for example. Once a consumer receives a device (which can be ordered right through the app) or, even if they have a device already, they can register it with WebMD and data will begin to be collected. It's a process akin to syncing your Netflix account with a Roku box.
With patients being given so much access and control of their data, combined with recommendations about their health condition, a concern arises that perhaps patients may be taking too much into their own hands and forgo the advice and opinions of a doctor or other caregiver. When asked about these concerns Valencia says that he trusts patients' judgment. “I think we underestimate people's ability to make good choices about their own health. At the end of the day we're talking about things that happen outside of the hospital on an ongoing basis. You really don't have clinical advice so much as you are getting guidance on how to stay fit.”
WebMD is currently integrating into 2net and the companies expect a full rollout in fourth quarter of 2013. As the integration takes hold and the market grows Valencia says Qualcomm Life hopes to expand the offerings into more acute conditions as well as working to give physicians and clinicians better access to patient data. “The market is pushing us toward connectivity with physicians but it's a tricky thing to get right. We're starting with basic services this year but we hope to move into the next phase, and even to eventually move toward prescribing apps for patients,” he says.